Imagine the structure of your house: there’s a foundation, a frame, a roof and the siding. What would happen to your home if one of those major pieces was missing? Now imagine your financial situation as also being comprised of equally important parts. These parts can be more generally broken down into your assets and liabilities, your protection from risk, your investments, and your tax situation.
Together, these parts reinforce your financial foundation so that you can be more prepared to protect and preserve your wealth in tough economies and volatile market conditions. But, without one of these important parts, your financial foundation is less stable and could be exposed to challenges that may arise in the future. These vulnerabilities in your financial situation can wreak havoc on your long-term objectives, your family, and your lifestyle.
By taking into account your current financial situation including your assets and liabilities, your protection needs, your investments, and your tax situation, while exploring options on solidifying your financial core, you can protect yourself from setbacks along the way and pursue your future goals more confidently.
Let’s start with the basics – assets and liabilities
Your income is central to pursuing all your goals. Basic financial principles dictate that what you bring in must exceed what you send out. All the excess income should be applied toward your investment goals and simultaneously to build and emergency cash reserve, and pay down debt such as your mortgage and credit cards.
Build your cash reserve You must have cash available when you need it for emergency situations. So when something unexpected happens such as a job loss, you can pay your day-to-day expenses without tapping into your assets that are set aside for your long-term financial goals. That’s why it is critical to have a systematic savings strategy to build an emergency cash fund of at least 6 months. This way you will be able to cover short- and long-term emergencies.
Your short-term reserve will cover frequent minor emergencies such as a leaky roof or car repairs. Your long-term cash reserve is for more significant changes such as a job loss or a disability. A short-term cash reserve typically consists of short-term liquid investments such as savings accounts, money market accounts, whereas a long-term reserve investments offer lower liquidity but higher rates of return such as certificates, Treasury notes, and CDs.
An added layer of protection may include establishing a home equity line of credit as part of your emergency fund. Keep in mind, it’s much easier to qualify for a home equity line when you are employed.
Without a sufficient cash reserve as a safety precaution, difficult financial times can lead to worse times especially if those times include you withdrawing cash from your long-term investments to get by, which can worsen not only your current tax situation but also your future standard of living.